Sunday, May 5, 2013

Neutral Milk Hotel

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On Friday, we tried to score tickets to one of the two NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL shows that are going to happen in October later this year, here in Athens at the world-famous 40 WATT club. The shows are going to be the first couple of shows that the band has performed in over 10 years. Because of the popularity of the band and the location of the concerts (Athens being the spiritual hometown of the band), the show sold out within a matter of minutes. Because the tickets were sold on-line, most of the tickets went to lucky people outside of Athens and many local fans and friends were left with nothing but disappointment...including me and Missy!

Then, a little bit before noon yesterday, word came through the grapevine (a.k.a. Facebook) that a third LOCALS-ONLY ATHENS SHOW was going on sale at 2pm, and that the tickets would only be available at the 40 Watt. As soon as I saw that piece of news come up on my Facebook feed, I yelled out, "MISSY, WE GOTTA GO! NOW!" She thought it was some sort of emergency before I explained that a third show was going on sale and we needed to get down to the 40 Watt as soon as possible. We got dressed, grabbed our umbrellas, and headed out in the pouring rain for downtown Athens...

By the time we got in line a little after noon, there was already 50 people waiting ahead of us. We were soaked and cold, but we were happy that we would finally be getting tickets to see Neutral Milk Hotel...

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We saw a lot of people we knew standing in line for tickets in the rain...despite the weather, it turned out to be a fun event in itself. Practically everyone knew each other - everyone shared their disappointment at not being able to get tickets the day before and now we were all savoring an Athens locals-only show. We went from feeling pretty low to feeling pretty special.

Around 1:30, they let the first 50 or so people into the club to buy tickets. Missy and I were that last two people in that first group. The savvy staff at the 40 Watt opened their bar and served drinks to the folks standing in line inside the club, running orders and bottles and cans between the bar and the line. Now THAT'S service!

They started selling tickets closer to 2pm. Everyone was allowed to buy up to 4 tickets, but everyone was encouraged to buy just as many tickets as they truly needed, so that the most number of people waiting in line would get a chance for tickets. After you purchased your tickets, the staff wrote your name on an envelope and then sealed your tickets inside. In order to discourage TICKET SCALPING, the 40 Watt is holding these envelopes until the day of the show in October. That night, ticket buyers will have to show I.D. at will call (and have all their party with them at the time) in order to retrieve their tickets. I handed over $31 and waved goodbye to my ticket..."See you in October!" I thought.

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Afterwards, we spent a fair amount of time reminiscing about Neutral Milk Hotel's heydays in the late 90s. I had never seen all the members of the band perform live together, though I've seen all of them perform in all their own individual bands and projects. Thus, my wish to see the entire band together playing live. Missy on the other hand had the good fortune to see them "back in the day", opening for the band SUPERCHUNK. That was in the late 90s, at a club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, called GRAFFITI. Missy told me she had photos from that show and I told her that I would like to see them again. So we busted out one of her many amazing photo albums and took a nostalgic trip back to the 90s. Because photos and videos won't be allowed at any future Neutral Milk Hotel shows, we decided to share some fond memories from Missy's 90s indie band archive...starting with a photo of her posing with a fresh-faced Neutral Milk Hotel...

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A totally meta "photo of photos" - the photo album chock full of wonderful photos, with Neutral Milk Hotel on the left, and photos of MELT BANANA on the right:

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Just to give the album more context, here's a few more photos of Missy and other indie luminaries from that time (who are all still going strong today), starting with Missy and KEVIN BARNES of OF MONTREAL. She *thinks* this was after a show he did with THE MUSIC TAPES at the Millvale Industrial Center in Pittsburgh, in 1999:


ARCHER PREWITT of THE COCTAILS and THE SEA AND CAKE with Missy after a Coctails show at Luciano's in Pittsburgh, in 1995:


Missy with ROSE MELBERG and JEN SBRAGIA of THE SOFTIES, after their show at Luciano's in Pittsburgh, sometime in the mid-nineties:


And finally (one of my favorite photos), Missy with LOU BARLOW of SEBADOH and THE FOLK IMPLOSION, at the Echo Lounge in Cleveland, Ohio:


I'm glad that Missy and I grew up listening to and loving the same sort of music we did in the 1990s, because it's a shared experience that we can really share with each other NOW, even though we weren't together THEN. Standing in line for Neutral Milk Hotel tickets in the rain for two hours - we not only felt nostalgia and fondness for our misspent youth during the the 90s, but we were happy to share NEW experiences with the music and bands that we love, new experiences that we wouldn't have to share second-hand with each other...


Julie Taylor said...

Oh my gosh, those photos "from the archives" are AMAAAZING!!!!

Missy said...

Thanks, Julie! It is fun to look back at my photo albums!